Mayor Kasim Reed shares plans on searches for two key staff vacancies

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is launching his second national search for a new general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — with a bit of a déja vu, all over again.

The chair of the search committee will be Carol Tomé, chief financial officer of the Home Depot, who chaired the Atlanta airport general manager search less than four years ago.

The city ended up selecting and hiring Louis Miller to that post. Miller retired at the end of 2013. One of the other finalists in the 2010 search — Miguel Southwell — joined the executive team of Hartsfield-Jackson last year, and he serving as the interim general manager until a permanent leader is chosen. Southwell is expected to be a candidate for that job.

It is one of two major national searches the mayor is launching — the other is for a new chief operating officer.

“We are planning to have the airport search opened and closed in 100 days,” Reed said.

In an email, Tomé said she was happy to be able to chair the search committee in a comeback role.

“This is an important role for our city and the state of Georgia, and I’m honored that the Mayor has confidence in me,” Tomé said. “Four years ago we created an effective playbook that we will follow again, and I’m thrilled that Louis Miller, in addition to other terrific leaders, will serve on the committee.”

The Korn Ferry firm will work with the search committee to find, vet, interview and recommend candidates to serve as general manger.

Reed has said this search is critical to Atlanta because the airport is “a vital economic engine” for the region. Reed also said he the next general manager would be expanding the airport’s cargo capabilties and helping maintain Atlanta’s position as having the busiest airport in the world.

The new general manager also will be responsible for completing the airport’s master plan, generating new revenues, and other projects that will spur economic development for Atlanta and the region.

Duriya Farooqui, chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta, will work with Tomé to launch the search process. Human Resources Commissioner Yvonne Cowser Yancy will support the committee’s work.

The members of the committee include:

• Chair: Carol Tomé, chief financial officer, The Home Depot
• Taylor Glover, president and CEO, Turner Enterprises, Inc.
• Cathy Hampton, city attorney, City of Atlanta
• Darryl Harmon, president – Southeast, Wells Fargo & Co.
• Louis Miller, former general manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
• Ben Myers, political director, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
• Scott Taylor, president, Carter USA
• Loretta Walker, SVP and chief HR Officer, Turner Broadcasting System.

The search committee will make its final recommendation of the top five candidates to Mayor Reed in March 2014.

Once the search committee makes its final recommendations, Mayor Reed will select the candidate for the position. The airport general manager will report to the chief operating officer once the appointment receives confirmation by the Atlanta City Council.

The mayor also needs to fill another looming vacancy at City Hall. Farooqui will be leaving the city at the end of January to become a principle with Bain & Co.

Reed is expected to name an interim COO on Monday — most likely someone who already is working in his administration.

In a brief interview on Thursday, Reed said the COO search will be underway at the same time as the airport general manager search.

“We’ll be doing the work on both of those in 100 days,” said Reed, who added that he has not yet identified a search firm or finished putting together a committee for the COO search.

But Reed said he has a good idea of the skills he would like his next COO to bring to the table.

“I’m looking to strengthen our ability to execute,” Reed said. “My focus in the next four years will be infrastructure investment — roads, bridges and sidewalks.

Reed said he will be leaving for Davos, Switzerland Monday evening as a guest of Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent for a prestigious international economic conference.

“We will announce the interim team before I go to Davos,” Reed said.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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